Dragon Noodles Academy
Date of review: December 23, 2016 | Reviewed by: Wilson Fok
Dragon Noodles Academy (DNA) takes its inspiration from traditional Hong Kong heritage and pop culture, with elements such as a five-metre long golden dragon installation at its entrance and beside the well-stocked bar. The restaurant is an elongated space, with tables set along the sides overlooking the open kitchen. Hanging from the ceiling are 12 crafted lion heads, familiar sights from the traditional lion dance. Their vibrant colours offer a bright and contrasting counterpoint to the the dark interiors.
The menu at DNA is extensive, and you’ll find that most dishes are beautifully photographed. The dim sum selections are available during lunch service, with a number of signature items served during dinner as well. We began with cold appetizers such as berry wintermelon, where the melon is scooped into tiny globes, marinated in blueberry sauce and arranged to resemble grapes. The melon globes are fruity but the texture slightly undercooked for our liking.
The sous-vide ginger chicken roll is satisfying. The chicken, tightly rolled and slow-cooked until tender and juicy, has an almost creamy texture with the zingy ginger and a light touch of five spice.
The crispy lobster puffs are the night’s first show-stopper. The ridged pastry cocoons form the ‘body’ of the whole lobster presentation. The pastry is flaky, thin, and melts in the mouth, while the lobster and pork filling is creamy and slightly mealier than anticipated. The lobster tail soup noodles are made with a thick coral-hued lobster broth which is rich but not thick like a bisque. Both the noodles and lobster chunks remain tender throughout.
Baby cabbage florets with ham are presented like blooming flowers. The steamed cabbage remained sweet and tender, while the ham gave it a savoury touch. Sweet and sour pork with pineapple was well executed with crispy pork riblets and a well-balanced glaze, which can be a little bit on the thick side.
We enjoyed the fun presentation of Nunchuks mango sticky rice, served for two. The mango remains sweet while lukewarm sticky rice went well with the light coconut dressing. The flowering tofu is a work of art, where neat and precise knife skills are needed to carve the tofu into a chrysanthemum-like form, served with a light ginger broth with wolfberries.
The beverage selection is impressive at DNA, where tea varieties are available in both hot, or room temperature served with ice cubes. Guests can indulge in a number of beers and wines by the glass. The iced version of Lychee and Red Date Tea is aromatic, thanks to the common variety of lychee black tea. The infusion is mildly sweet and great served with ice. The cocktail Kungfu Milk is a refreshing concoction of calamansi, rum, and condensed milk. Served in a traditional teacup, the mildly salty preserved calamansi puree adds depth and a light tartness to the creamy cocktail.
Service at Dragon Noodles Academy is quick but not always attentive to the needs of guests. Dishes rarely exceed 15 minutes waiting time between each dish, and the staff are keen to recommend signature dishes.
It is in the lesser-known categories, such as ingredients in cocktails or ways dishes are prepared, where staff show the lack of background knowledge which need improving.
A dinner for two including one beverage amounts to around HK$800. Dragon Noodles Academy is a good starting point on revisiting some Cantonese classics, but a larger party may be necessary for you to sample their larger signature dishes.